01 September 2015

Think Tank: Sea, air and land updates (1-Sep-2015)

Alice Slevison, Zoe Hawkins and James Mugg

Sea State

The US’ incoming chief of naval operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson has been invited by his Chinese counterpart, Commander in Chief of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy—Admiral Wu Shengli—to visit China to discuss US–China naval cooperation. Outgoing US Admiral Jon Greenert has pointed to China’s interest in the Rim of the Pacific naval exercise (RIMPAC), held every two years in Hawaii, claiming that Adm. Wu is ‘very interested in RIMPAC 2016 and making it work’. China took part in RIMPAC for the first time in the 2014.

On 27 August, Japan launched its second Izumo-class helicopter carrier, the largest warship built by Japan since World War II. The 24,000-tonne ship named Kaga can carry up to 14 helicopters and is designed for mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. The new capability is aimed at countering China’s more powerful submarine force. In March, an officer from the Japan Maritime Self Defense Forces told Japanese media outlet Asahi Shimbun that the ship ‘heightens our ability to deal with Chinese submarines that have become more difficult to detect’.

Meanwhile in Australia, NUSHIP Adelaide, RAN’s second landing helicopter dock, has completed its final sea ship trials in Port Phillip Bay. The 27,800 tonne vessel has returned to BAE System’s Williamstown shipyard and will be delivered to the Navy in September.

AUS: Shipyard visit by Tonga’s Chief of Defence Staff - Australia’s gift to the Kingdom of Tonga undergoing sea trials

Shipyard visit by Tonga’s Chief of Defence Staff

Today Head Maritime Systems Rear Admiral Mark Purcell hosted Chief of Defence Staff, His Majesty’s Armed Forces, Tonga Brigadier Lord Fielakepa, at the Forgacs Shipyards in Newcastle, to view a just completed landing craft that will join the Tongan Naval Component next month.

The Australian Government is gifting the new Landing Craft Medium, worth approximately $5 million, to the Kingdom of Tonga as part of our Defence Cooperation Program.

Delivery of this vessel will mark a significant milestone in Australia’s Defence relationship with Tonga.

Tonga is an important security partner in the region, and this important initiative will enhance Tonga’s maritime capacity to reach its outer islands.

AUS: HMAS Canberra Initial Operational Capability

The Royal Australian Navy’s Amphibious Ship, HMAS Canberra, has completed a graduated operational test and trials program to achieve a key milestone towards Initial Operating Capability.

The program included integration of landing craft as well as trials for both the crew, ship and aviation systems. The Navy’s S70B Seahawk, Army’s S70A Blackhawk and the joint MRH-90 Taipan helicopters have now all been evaluated for operations from the Canberra class ships.

Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Tim Barrett, AO, CSC, RAN, said the milestone meant that Canberra had successfully conducted the required training and evaluation to undertake specific Government directed operations.

“Canberra now has another two months of more complex joint collective training and exercises to integrate other elements of the Australian Defence Force amphibious capability,” VADM Barrett said.

USA: USS Ronald Reagan Departs for Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nathan Burke

SAN DIEGO - After nine years of calling Naval Air Station North Island its homeport, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) departed San Diego for Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan, Aug. 31.

USS Ronald Reagan replaced the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) as the U.S. Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier and will assume duties in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility upon arrival.

“Ronald Reagan has been embraced as America’s Flagship. Not only does she have strong ties to Americans, she also has ties to the people of Japan,” said Rear Adm. John Alexander, commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet. “In 2011 Ronald Reagan was one of the first responders to assist in the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated the east coast of Japan during Operation Tomodachi. The ties that were established with the ship and our host nation will continue to grow.”

USA: Multinational Dawn Blitz Naval, Ground Exercise Kicks Off

From I Marine Expeditionary Force

In this file photo, USS Boxer (LHD 4), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and the USS New Orleans (LPD 18) transit together in the Pacific while returning from deployment in 2014. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Mayra A. Knight) >>

SAN DIEGO - Naval, ground and aviation forces from the United States, Japan, Mexico and New Zealand departed Naval Base San Diego Aug. 31, to participate in exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 (DB-15) off the coast and ashore at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Training Center 29 Palms, California, through Sept. 9.

DB-15 is a scenario-driven exercise designed to train the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps in operations expected of an amphibious task force while also building U.S. and coalition operational interoperability. The exercise will test staffs in the planning and execution of amphibious operations in a series of live training events at sea, in the air and ashore.

Industry: Austal Delivers Eighth Cape Class Patrol Boat

A Cape class Patrol Boat (Image: Austal)
Austal Limited (Austal) (ASX:ASB) is pleased to announce it has delivered Cape York the final of eight Cape Class Patrol Boats supplied to Australian Border Force (formerly Australian Customs and Border Protection) under a $330 million design, build and in-service support contract.

Austal Chief Executive Officer Andrew Bellamy said that with eight boats successfully delivered within the original timeframe, Austal has demonstrated its credentials as a partner of choice for government defence vessel programs and a world leader in patrol boat design, build and sustainment.

“The on-time and on-budget delivery of all eight Cape Class Patrol Boats is a credit to our highly skilled team at the Henderson shipyard, which has achieved valuable production efficiencies as the program progressed; clearly demonstrating the benefits of continuous shipbuilding and reinforcing Austal’s capability to successfully design, build and sustain multiple naval and border protection vessel programs.”

Industry: Northrop Grumman Australia Partners with ViaSat and Optus to Deliver Next-Generation Satellite Communications for the Australian Defence Force

Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) Satalite
CANBERRA, Australia – Aug. 31, 2015 – Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE: NOC) has partnered with ViaSat and Optus to offer the Australian Defence Force (ADF) a proven solution for its utilisation of the Wideband Global SATCOM (WGS) system.

A photo accompanying this release is available HERE.

Under the team's response to the ADF's tender request, Australia has the opportunity to gain access to Northrop Grumman's Satellite Communications Operations and Planning Element (SCOPE) network management system, which is the only managing, operating and monitoring system that has already been successfully integrated with the WGS. Northrop Grumman's network management system has been employed by U.S. Army Strategy Command for more than 15 years, and is critical to the successful operation of all six WGS satellites currently in orbit.

News Story: NT$2.9bn budget pitched for Taiwan's indigenous submarine project

Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense on Monday submitted a budget proposal of NT$2.9 billion (US$89 million) to the Legislative Yuan for an indigenous submarine project.

The Navy is planning to launch the first phase of the project next year, starting with a design contract, and has proposed a budget of NT$500 million (US$15.4 million) for the first year of the project.

The full submarine project, spread over four years, is estimated to cost NT$2.9 billion, the proposal stated.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: PLA's DF-26 IRBM is without peer, says Sina Military

DF-26 (TEL) Transporter Erector Launcher (Chinese Internet)
The People's Liberation Army's DF-26 missile is an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) without peer in the world, the Beijing-based Sina Military Network claims.

International standards consider guided missiles to be IRBMs if they have a range of more than 3,000 kilometers. Due to China's geopolitical considerations, however, the PLA only considers a missile to be an IRBM if it has a range of greater than 4,000 km.

China's first-generation IRBM is the DF-4, which represents a number of breakthroughs in weapons technology such as multi-stage rockets, warhead heat resistance, high-altitude ignition engines and inertial navigation, the report said.

The DF-4 provided the foundations for the country's satellite-launching and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology. The Long March 1 carrier rocket which launched China's first satellite in 1970 was developed from DF-4 technology.

Read the full story at Want China Times

News Story: 120,000 protesters surround Japan's Diet over security bills

Some 120,000 people rallied and surrounded Japan's parliament building in Tokyo on Sunday, demanding Prime Minister Shinzo Abe rescind his government's controversial security bills.

Political heavyweight Ichiro Ozawa, who also serves as a co-head of the People's Life Party, and other opposition leaders also took part in the largest rally recently seen in Tokyo. According to organizers, similar demonstrations against the bills were also held across the country at the weekend.

Katsuya Okada, leader of the largest opposition Democratic Party, said the security-related bills violated the country's pacifist postwar constitution, adding that the Japanese people were angered by the bills that they feel has placed the nation in crisis.

Communist Party chief Kazuo Shii said the Abe administration avoided directly answering questions over the bills during deliberations in the Diet, vowing to stop the bills' endorsement in the upper house.

Read the full story at Want China Times